NASA launches orbiter towards sun, now many secrets will be revealed

Atlas V Rocket with Solar Orbiter Spacecraft

On Sunday, NASA and the European Space Agency launched the spacecraft on a mission to the sun to get close-up views of its polar regions. "Go Solar Orbiter!" said Cesar Garcia Marirrodriga, project manager for the European Space Agency.

Atlas V lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Febraury 9. The mission is expected to last seven years. "Solar Orbiter is created to go and be able to unlock these mysteries".

Solar Orbiter combines two main modes of study. She explained in a video that the spacecraft will require more energy to launch into areas outside of the ecliptic plane. The probe journey is further assisted by the gravitational forces from Venus and Earth. It also shields the instruments from a flow of high-energy particles produced by solar wind. The Solar Orbiter's primary scientific activity will take place during its close-encounters with the Sun, where it will fly as close as 42 million km (26 million mi), and at its higher orbits. Between the two, scientists will finally be able to have a better understanding about the star that lets life on Earth keep chugging along. It will also study the link between the sun and the heliosphere by establishing a cause-and-effect relationship of what happens on the sun and the near-Earth environment.

While Solar Orbiter won't venture close enough to penetrate the sun's corona, or crown-like outer atmosphere, like Parker, it will manoeuvre into a unique out-of-plane orbit that will take it over both poles, which have never been photographed before. This spacecraft has 10 equipment installed.

Atlas V 411 Launching Solar Orbiter Into Space
Artist’s impression of an Atlas V 411 launching Solar Orbiter into space. Credit ESA ATG medialab

Now, Solar Orbiter will add to this by revealing the north and south poles of the Sun to us.

Artist's impression of an Atlas V 411 launching Solar Orbiter into space.

"The magnetic field at the Sun's poles are controlling the overall magnetic structure of the interplanetary magnetic field". Scientists want to answer many questions about the solar cycle. This activity can send powerful streams of solar particles into space that could harm astronauts or damage satellites. "The Inouye Solar Telescope is a microscope on the sun", Valentin Martínez Pillet, director of the National Solar Observatory, which runs the facility, told Space.com. NASA says the spacecraft's instruments can collect data on the solar material and measure it. His NASA counterpart, scientist Holly Gilbert, exclaimed, "One word: Wow". But by the time space weather reaches Earth, it's been influenced by millions of miles of space; it's much fresher where the Parker Solar Probe and the Solar Orbiter can study it. This collaboration between NASA and the European Space Agency has become one of the most successful collaborations in space exploration in history! Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor. "We're not able to have any realistic predictive capabilities today, but as soon as you get the physics right, then you start being able to develop predictive capabilities". Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

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